Vishnevskaya, Galina (1926—)

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Vishnevskaya, Galina (1926—)

Russian soprano who, with her husband, lost her Soviet citizenship for supporting dissidents . Name variations: Vishnevskaiia. Born Galina Pavlovna Vishnevskaya in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), USSR, on October 25, 1926; married Mstislav Rostropovich (the cellist and conductor), in 1955.

Galina Vishnevskaya's career was divided between the United States and the former Soviet Union, although not by choice. Trained in Leningrad (St. Petersburg) by Vera Garina , Vishnevskaya joined the Bolshoi Theater's operatic

staff in Moscow in 1952. Three years later, she married Mstislav Rostropovich, the cellist and conductor, with whom she frequently appeared in concert. In 1961, Vishnevskaya appeared with the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Despite the fact that she and her husband were stars in the USSR, both had repeated political clashes with the Communist government. When they took Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, the dissident writer, into their home, it was a bold challenge to the Soviet regime. In 1974, they decided to emigrate to the West, settling in Washington, D.C., where Rostropovich was appointed musical director of the National Symphony Orchestra in 1977. The couple were stripped of their citizenship in 1978. Vishnevskaya published her biography, Galina: A Russian Story, in 1984. In 1990, her citizenship was restored. Vishnevskaya's voice was warm and her style passionate. One of the high points of her career was her performance of Benjamin Britten's moving War Requiem with Peter Pears and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, conducted by the composer. When released on record, this was considered by many critics to be one of the great recordings of the century.


Sadie, Stanley, ed. New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. 20 vols. NY: Macmillan, 1980.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia